The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Barbra Streisand as Rose Morgan in The Mirror Has Two Faces

Barbara Builds Bridges

There is a moment in "The Mirror Has Two Faces" it comes about three quarters of the way through where having returned from a book tour of Europe Gregory discovers that Rose, the plain women he married to avoid sex has transformed into this radiant beauty. And that point there if "The Mirror Has Two Faces" had found an ending it would have been great, not a great romantic comedy, but a great moment to bring everything to an end except nope we get another 20 to 30 minutes of romantic dithering. And that is one of the problems which sadly cause "The Mirror Has Two Faces" to not only drag on but end up average instead of the better than average that it so easily could have been. In fact for the first hour and a bit it is an above average romantic comedy aimed at the 20 - 30 something set but because of a few issues it just doesn't end up as good as it should be.

Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges - Blown Away) finds it hard to focus on anything when he is in a physical relationship which is not good as an author and maths lecturer. And so he decides to advertise for a woman he can have a relationship on an intellectual level with but not physical which is how he comes to meet the frumpy Rose (Barbra Streisand - What's Up, Doc?), also a lecturer. Whilst very different Rose and Gregory get on well, becoming close friends to the point that they get married whilst keeping the physical side of things out of their relationship. But deep down Rose wants more and whilst Gregory is away on a book tour of Europe she transforms herself in the hope that on his return Gregory will also be physically attracted to her.

Jeff Bridges as Gregory Larkin in The Mirror Has Two Faces

The storyline to "The Mirror Has Two Faces" is to be honest both simple and a little unoriginal and the outcome is pretty obvious too but it is entertaining. On one had you the proverbial frumpy, loser in love Rose who dreams of meeting the perfect man but is on the verge for settling for less whilst Gregory wants to meet someone who he can talk to and have a deeper relationship with on an intellectual level rather than a physical one as sex leaves him a bumbling distracted wreck. They are two cliche characters brought together thanks to Rose's sister and end up in the most unconventional marriage. And of course whilst there unorthodox non physical relationship sort of works eventually Rose wants more and Gregory won't give it to her, quite literally. It's amusing, totally daft but amusing especially as it is plainly obvious that over time Gregory's feelings deepen for her.

Of course romance never runs smoothly, there is an unwritten law which states this in movie world, and so unsurprisingly things come to a head and we have Gregory heading to Europe on a book tour whilst in his absence Rose who is really no ugly duckling transforms herself into a typical beauty which leads to that moment about three quarters of the way though. And here is where things go wrong because on Gregory's return and seeing Rose has transformed would have been a perfect ending but nope we get more. And that more is that it drags things out as we get romantic turmoil with Gregory struggling with Rose not only changing but walking out whilst the now super sexy Rose struggles with someone she has secretly loved. It could have done without all of this as it almost feels like it's spinning its wheels going nowhere.

And it is a shame as "The Mirror Has Two Faces" is a romantic comedy for adults with adult characters, intelligent humour and some touching moments. It is at times surprisingly clever especially how it pokes fun at the way movies represent love with fairytale notions. In fact this poking fun of the movie fairytale paves the way for a great ending, an obvious one but still a great one.

But there is another issue and that is whilst the casting is first rate and there are enjoyable performances from Lauren Bacall, George Segal, Mimi Rogers and Pierce Brosnan the actual chemistry between Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand is for the most non existent. Now that may sound daft with a storyline which basically has a marriage of convenience going on but it feels wrong that there is no real spark on the romantic front even during the second half. It means that you have Jeff Bridges putting in a very nice solo performance as the almost head in the clouds Gregory whilst Barbra Streisand is just as entertaining as the wise cracking Rose but they don't quite gel.

What this all boils down to is that "The Mirror Has Two Faces" is a fun movie with a fun premise of what is a sort of marriage of convenience but it sadly ends up quite average. It's average because whilst individually Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand are good together they don't quite gel. But the most significant issue is that the ending is dragged out to the point that you wish the romantic dithering would just end.